Sunday, August 22, 2010

"Augh! Augh! Augh!," As Tim, "The Tool man", Taylor would say.

Still working on the solar cookers. The latest is a real "macho" cooker. I covered a satellite dish with chrome vinyl and pointed it at the sun. At the focal point of the parabolic curve it gets hot enough to set fire to anything flammable. I will make a rack below this point so the sun strikes the side of the pot heating it to cooking temp in a hurry. You might think of this as a solar burner. It will fry or boil in about the same time as an electric range. This might be the best use of a TV dish ever.

Sun Day's dinner was the holy grail of solar cooking, the three pound roast beef. It was cooked in the box cooker and was done in three hours. It was the best, most tender roast I have ever had.

That's "Good Eats"

Blueberry cobler baked Saturday

Salmon and broccoli  for  Saturday's  dinner.

We cooked the rice in the panel cooker

Rice in the panel cooker.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Proof Is In Banana Bread?

Update: Baked a loaf of artisan bread in the solar oven today. I preheated the oven and the dutch oven in the sun then added the bread dough. It took about 1 1/2 hrs to bake. As you can see by the picture it wasn't a prime solar day (hazy and partly cloudy). It baked just fine anyway.

Cooked for the first time today in my just completed solar oven . Baked Brownies followed by a quick Banana Bread. It worked even BETTER than I expected!
the oven constructed from recycled materials.

Preheated the oven in the sun for about an hour then loaded the first pan of brownies

Brownies rose quickly and evenly

40 minutes later.......Perfect chewy moist brownies!

Cathy mixed up a quick Banana Bread batter to test how the oven would work with lighter colored ingredients.

The bread rose evenly in about 20 minutes.

It baked 1hour and 15 minutes. It achieved an internal temperature of 200f. and browned evenly. It remained moist and delicious.
Cooking times were about 1/3 longer than with a conventional oven but  the quality was better.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sol Invictus...Might as well be cooking with the sun.

Free cooking. No moving parts.  No fossil fuel. No utility bill. Built with recycled parts.
I've spent the past few days turning a bunch of recycled odds-and-ends  into a solar oven. The summer heat has made cooking inside uncomfortable and expensive. We heat up the house with the oven or stove (which uses electricity) then We have to turn down the thermostat to cool the house (using more electricity).

Sol Invictus A.k.a Sunny Boy
The oven was designed around, and built from, things I had laying around. The full out-of-pocket cost was about $40. This was mostly for a piece of tempered glass and some hardware.
Ready for the first test run. The reflector is temporary and will be replaced by 4 reflectors covered in chrome sign grade vinyl. The door is an old picture frame holding a sheet of 1/4" tempered glass.
The oven is a metal box inside an insulated outer box made from a half sheet of plywood that was left over from another project.

Humble beginnings:
 This old heavy metal parts bin is just the right size for the oven. It also has a nice rim to hold  a gasket. It's heavy gauge steel and should store the heat well.

I cut the triangular shapes out, bent the lip back against the box and welded a filler piece in to make it rectangular.

I made a plywood box 2" larger than the metal box all around.

This old  broiler pan will become "The Levelator"

Sliced and diced

"The Levelator" keeps the cooking surface level as the oven is angled into the sun and raised or lowered.

Painted with high-temp black to convert the sunlight to heat.
The space between the inner and outer box is stuffed with recycled fiber insulation from insulated candy shipping boxes. The metal box was wrapped with foil prior to insulating. This will reflect some heat back into the cooking chamber.

An old picture frame holds the tempered glass and allows you to see a "Picture" of your lunch.
The reflector is temporary. It will have 4 reflectors set at a 60degree angle to the box. They will funnel more sunlight into the oven.

First test today was a great success despite a hazy, partly cloudy day, and having just one reflector.
 I pointed it at the sun at 10:00am and  it reached 325f .within an hour. Clouds drifting in front of the sun and a light intermittent shower did little to cool it off. It ran between 275f. and 325f.  until a sudden thunderstorm drove us into the garage about 4:30pm. Two hours later it was still showing 170f. in the garage. I expect the heavy gauge metal helped keep the temp pretty constant all day.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

GIZMO Raku Fried Steampunk Jug.

Title: " Gizmo "
The Steampunk Gearhead Robot Clown.
Raku Fried stoneware and mixed media.

Comment : The last clowns I made were done over 20 years ago. They were "terminally cute". I swore, at the time, to never make another clown. Gizmo is a little different though. He is a robot clown with lots of gears, rivets, screws, guages etc. He was thrown on the potters wheel from stoneware clay, then sculpted by hand. He has a lot of detail (lots of hours making rivets, screws, nuts and more. He was then fired in my homemade raku kiln . The glazes are really spectacular. They have lots of copper and gold flashing and go from turquoise to dark green with areas of dark lustrous metallic blues and purples. The pictures don't do justice to the piece. After firing, found pieces were added to complete the robot look. One eye is an old typewriter ball with a peep hole (from the front door) for a pupil. Hair is brass wire and the steam gauge has a real antique pocket watch crystal.